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Sun, Jan. 26

Group wants Arcosanti's Soleri as Nobel Prize candidate

If those who admire him have their way, a Yavapai County resident could become the 2002 candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri's innovative designs for sustainable human habitation may earn him a place among the world's greatest leaders for world peace.

The founder of Cordes Junction's Arcosanti - an experimental model for a city that demonstrates Soleri's concepts in urban design - Italian-born Soleri originated the concept of Arcology.

"The central concept around which these developments revolve is arcology - architecture and ecology as one integral process," said Soleri. "Arcology is capable...of demonstrating positive response to the many problems of urban civilization, those of population, pollution, energy and natural resource depletion."

French knight Michel Sarda spearheads the campaign to nominate Soleri for the peace prize, through his Phoenix-based organization Art Renaissance Initiative.

"Paolo Soleri is concerned about the future of humankind, the way we dwell and congregate in cities," Sarda said. "He has a global slant - his vision is for all of humankind. He's more of a philosopher than an architect. He makes a very interesting candidate for this award.

"Our drive is to have Paolo Soleri nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize," said Sarda. "It is a complex procedure.

"I have no vote for this kind of thing. I want to create an awareness to nominate the candidate for the Nobel Prize - but we might not be the only candidate presented by the United States.

"Outside of Arizona, the rest of the world recognizes the immense stature of the man," he said. "I'm an architect myself, and I know Soleri is one of the five best architects in the world, on the caliber of Frank Lloyd Wright."

Soleri knows and is close to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit, said Sarda. "We are hoping to reach Al Gore to endorse (Soleri). The jury of the Nobel Prize cannot just ignore the endorsement of the (Vice) President of the United States."

However, Sarda said the prize jury is "jealous of their right to select the candidates for the Nobel Prize."

Sarda targets 2002 as the year to push Soleri's candidacy. "It takes a very long time to get the support of the major players," he said. "The justices of the Hague International Court, in Holland, have a vote. Also the former (Peace Prize) recipients, but they might not be familiar with Paolo Soleri.

The problem lies in the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in an unwieldy sprawl for miles, said Soleri. As a result of their sprawl they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots and waste enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods and services over their expanses.

In the meantime, Sarda's organization helps Soleri receive other recognition for his work.

"My non-profit organization worked to award him the Governor's Award three or four years ago, in Arizona," he said.

And last June Soleri won the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, awarded at Italy's Venice Biennale. "The rest of the world recognizes this man," Sarda said. "The Golden Lion Award is one of the world's four or five most prestigious awards for the arts."

"Paolo is a modest person in many ways," said Sarda. "He is very pleased anytime there is some recognition for what he does. He is hoping some funding (from the Nobel Prize) will help him pursue what he is doing at Arcosanti. What he has already accomplished there is extraordinary, especially with no money.

"Building a city costs a lot of money. Now it is just a skeleton."

To contact the Soleri Nobel Committee, call 602-808-9670.

Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri may become America's next candidate for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to a sustainable future for all mankind.

(Courtesy photo)

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